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Trouble Sleeping? Substance Abuse May Be to Blame


Waking up

There’s no doubt that daily stressors can take a toll on our sleep: anxiety, stress about meeting deadlines at work, tasks that didn’t get completed or appointments we need to remember that are coming up and more can all make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Many people try to rely on substance such as drugs or alcohol to help them either fall asleep later at night or to help them stay awake during the day. While this may seem productive at first, it unfortunately perpetuates a negative cycle of use – leading to dependence and, eventually, addiction. If you’ve been struggling with substance abuse, this could be a critical factor that’s imposing on much needed sleep.

Previous studies have shown that depressants such as alcohol can make you groggy; Harvard Medical School emphasizes the fact that alcohol raises the body’s level of epinephrine, a stress hormone that increases your heart rate and is responsible for those midnight wakeup sessions. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Mental Health sought to explore sleep quantity and quality of those who use substances; 549 users completed surveys, with 188 individuals providing details about their sleep experiences. Several findings emerged:

Sleep quality – most participants reported feeling tired and exhausted most of the time, with frustration that they could not work effectively during the day because they were so tired.

Nature of sleep problems – individuals reported waking up many times throughout the night, either due to nightmares, vivid dreams, hallucinations, or simply because. Other participants noted sleeping too much, which perpetuated feelings of exhaustion all throughout their day.

Sleep and substances – many people stated that using substances exacerbated their sleeping problems; some individuals stated that prescribed medications helped their sleep while others reported it hindering it.

Factors improving sleep quality – detox, abstinence from substances, daytime exercising, limiting caffeine intake, nightly routine, relaxing before bed, meditation, hypnotherapy, being happy, and reducing expectations regarding sleep all seemed to help participants improve their sleep quality.

Factors undermining sleep quality – detoxification symptoms, racing thoughts, anxiety, traumatic dreams, chronic pain, health conditions, and social factors all seemed to undermine participants’ sleep quality.

If you’re currently in a reputable treatment program, speak with your therapist about your quality of sleep and discuss ways that you can improve your sleep as well as factors that may be hindering it. Sleep provides fuel for the body, making it a crucial component to your success in recovery.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.